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Myths/Legends of Tenerife, Canary Islands

Tenerife is the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands and an extremely popular holiday destination with approximately 5 million tourists visiting every year. The island’s first inhabitants are believed to date back to 200BC, thus the island is overflowing with rich history and incredible culture.

It is an island surrounded by mystery and is oozing with a variety of myths and legends. From the first inhabitants of the island, to the ghost stories of small towns, Tenerife has lots of stories to tell.

Below is a short guide to some of the top myths and legends associated with the beautiful island of Tenerife.

The Guanches

The Guanches are thought to be the first inhabitants of the island of Tenerife, dressing in rough skins and working primarily with clay. Some people believe Tenerife to be the visible remains of the sunken continent of Atlantis. One of the biggest legends surrounding the Guanche people is that they were the descendants of the forgotten people of Atlantis.

Legend states that the Guanche were the sons and grandsons of those who lived on Atlantis, and they were magically transformed into islanders when the catastrophe of the sinking occurred. This belief is backed up by the fact that there is no proof to suggest that the Guanches knew anything about sailing, making it a mystery of how they would have reached and survived on the island. Although there is no hard evidence, this is one of the most commonly heard legends about Tenerife.

Some pottery believed to date back to the time of the Guanches

Some pottery believed to date back to the time of the Guanches

The Dragon’s Tale

In Greek mythology, Hercules was compelled to undertake several tasks, one of which was to steal golden apples from the tree in the Garden of Hesperides, or Tenerife, as it is known today. Legend has it that a dragon with 100 heads guarded the area, and when Hercules killed the dragon, a tree sprung up from every drop of blood that fell.

Today these trees are known as ‘Dragon Trees’ and they grow across the entire northern area of Tenerife. When these trees are cut the sap oxidises and turns red. This is believed to prove the shrubs contain the dragon’s blood.


Masca is one of the areas in Tenerife that is heavily associated with witchcraft and wizardry. The tale of a young boy who was going to see his girlfriend is a well-known legend from this area. The story goes that a boy was headed to see his girlfriend, when his mother warned him not to go for fear that witches may attack him. Not heeding her warnings, he set out on his journey.

As the boy walked through the woods, a large pig attacked him, and in his defence he picked up a stick and beat the pig to scare it off. Eventually the boy ran home in fear. When he went to see his girlfriend the next day he found her crying and heartbroken because her mother had died the previous night, as she’d been beaten to death with a stick in the woods.

The beautiful and picturesque village of Masca

The beautiful and picturesque village of Masca

The Ghost Island Mystery

The most unusual legend of Tenerife is the land often referred to as the Ghost Island. It is known as San Borondon and is believed to be the 8th Canary Island. It is not visible 100% of the time, but there have been reported sightings throughout history from a variety of people.

On a clear day it is possible to see the nearby islands of La Palma and La Gomera from Tenerife; some people believe that others may have mistaken these islands for the ‘Ghost Island’ of San Borondon. However, the legend remains that there is a vanishing ghostly island just off the shore of Tenerife – dare you look?


Tenerife is a beautiful island that is full of history, culture, and many exciting myths and legends. From ghost islands to dragons and Atlantis, Tenerife is bursting with unusual and amazing stories that are quite simply fascinating.



Article by Natalie Moody


Image credits: Wikipedia and Wikipedia